University of Arkansas at Monticello College of Technology-Crossett (UAM-CTC) held its commencement exercises for its graduating class on Thursday, June 23 at the Crossett High School arena.
There were over one hundred students in the graduating class this year receiving either technical certificates or applied science degrees in their chosen field, from the following fields of study:
• Early Childhood Education
• Electromechanical Technology
• Electromechanical Technology-Instrumentation
• Health Information Technology
• Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Technology
• Hospitality Services
• Practical Nursing
• Welding Technology
• Associate of Applied Science-General Technology
• Associate of Applied Science- Industrial Technology
Linda Rushing, vice chancellor of UAM-CTC, provided the welcome to the crowd.
This was the 47th year they have held a commencement for the college, according to Rushing, who emphasized the importance of the “love and support” the students receive from their families “to reach this milestone” in their lives.
“Each year I remind our graduates that an education is not something that is given, it is earned,” said Rushing, “and no one can take that away once you have earned it.”
Dr. Peggy Doss, the chancellor of University of Arkansas at Monticello, offered greetings, words of encouragement and congratulations.
“Today truly marks a milestone for each of you…it marks a successful accomplishment in your life.”
Doss emphasized the “perseverance, ingenuity and determination” the graduates exhibited to achieve their goals.
Lynn Rodgers, chair of the UAM-CTC Advisory Board, spoke of how each of the students there had a story that was worth hearing.
“Your accomplishments are admirable and life-changing,” said Rodgers.
Janie Carter, who is over Special Projects at UAM-CTC, informed the crowd that there were 16 new members from the class that had been added to this year’s National Technical Honor Society, which seeks to empower students to build skills.
“For the first time since the chapter formed in 1992, a member of our class earned a scholarship” from the NTHS, which requires students maintain at least a 3.0 grade point average.
Montgomery “Monty” Kilcrease was named as the recipient of the scholarship.
Carter described Kilcrease as “most deserving” and a “shining example.”
The Outstanding Alumnus of the Year for 2022, Julie Bays, was introduced by Rushing.
Rushing gave some background on Bays, explaining that she enrolled in the nursing program at the college after returning to the area with her communications degree.
Those first nursing classes eventually led to her pursuing advanced degrees in the subject, which culminated in her earning her masters degree in nursing in May of 2021, with an impressive 4.0 GPA.
Bays, who has been employed by the Ashley County Family Clinic since 2013, has spent this past year as a family nurse practitioner in the practice.
Her numerous degrees were not the only achievement that was recognized. Bays has also participated in mission work in other countries, such as Ukraine, and characterized the experience as “life changing.”
Bays told the graduates, “I took the scenic route,” describing the process of finding her niche in life.
Bays explained that their graduation is just the first step for some. She encouraged the graduates to continue to strive for their goals, remarking that “every step matters.”
Shela Upshaw, practical nursing instructor/chair and Kayla Noble, practical nursing clinical instructor, performed the pinning of the practical nursing graduates.
There were five nurses in this year’s class, each taking the Practical Nurse Pledge as part of their ceremony. The arena was darkened as candles were lit by Upshaw and Noble and passed to each nurse to symbolize the knowledge they had received through their education.
Rushing awarded the certificates and diplomas. Each student completed their walk in front of the stage and their fellow graduates, encouraged by the applause from the crowd.
Jeff Weaver, vice chancellor-advancement at UAM, performed the conferring of alumni status to the graduates of the 2022 class, at which point, tassels were moved and the audience showed their support with a round of applause.
Those in attendance poured out of the arena, and each family looked eagerly for their graduate so they could offer their congratulations.
Celebratory smiles, hugs, and handshakes provided a warm finish to the evening’s celebration.